Saturday, February 20, 2010

A night at the cinema

Cinema poster

Yesterday I loaded the photo software that came with my camera, only to have the computer crash. It took me quite a while to get it working again.

Thursday we did one of those very Sydney things, went to the St George Open Air Cinema. We did so almost by accident. Dee's sister had some tickets but could not go, so we went with some of Dee's work colleagues.

The Cinema itself is formed by blocking off part of the park area adjacent to Sydney's Royal Botanic Gardens overlooking the city, opera house and bridge. It's quite a beautiful area.

The screen itself is built into the water on pylons and can then be raised once it gets dark.

This was the third time we have been, in fact once a year for the last three years. The first time we picnicked in the Botanic Gardens after we had handed in our tickets and put reserved notices on the seats. This is quite fun, sitting on the grass, eating chicken and drinking champagne watching the the dusk slowly fall across the city.

I may not be completely happy living in Sydney, I prefer to visit, but no one can deny that this is one of the Open air cinema world's most beautiful cities in visual terms.

The Cinema's popularity means that you need to get there early if you want the best seats, earlier still if you want to eat inside at a table.

The first time we went it was okay to get there just before the gates opened at 6:15. Most people still came later.

This is no longer true. We had decided to eat there. We arrived at 5.20. Even then, there were one hundred people in the queue in front of us. The photo shows part of the queue around 5.40.

As we went through the gates we split up. My job was to charge ahead to get a table in the restaurant area. Even with this organisation, the tables with the best water views had been taken by the time I got there. Still, we had a seat for dinner.

The food and wine aren't cheap. We had shared entrees first and then shared fish and chips and fruit, drinking a rather nice New Zealand white. This amounted to a pretty packet. Still, It was very nice.

Cruise ship Sydney harbour While eating I heard the sound of deep sirens. I rushed down and got this photo of a cruise ship leaving the harbour brightly lit by the setting sun. The boat on the left is one of the smaller pleasure craft plying Sydney Harbour.

As the sun finally set, the screen was raised and the film started.

Up in the Air stars George Clooney, Jason Bateman, Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick.

The trailer states:

George Clooney stars as Ryan Bingham, a corporate downsizing expert who spends most of his year flying from one city to another firing people on behalf of bosses who don’t have the strength to do so. Driven by the goal of reaching ten million frequent flyer miles, Bingham is cool and detached, and cherishes his life on the road. But when his itinerary is threatened by changing technology, he breaks all the rules by imagining a life with the frequent-traveller woman of his dreams.

I am not sure that I would have bothered to see the film based on this trailer, yet it is a good film. It is also a film that had an eery similarity to one stage in my life when I was travelling all the time and enjoying it. I do mean travel: I averaged five domestic flights a week. At the peak of craziness I arrived in Armidale on the evening flight, there my wife handed me baby Helen so she could leave on the same plane as it left, while Helen and I went home to put the girl to bed.

This was a cocooned world, a world of hotels, eating places and airport lounges eased by all those facilities supporting the very frequent traveller. Fast check-ins, working in the lounges between flights, no cooking or washing, everything organised.

It wasn't always fun. Arriving in London after spending a fortnight with multiple meetings in four countries, I was so tired that I could barely manage the coherence required to check-in for the connecting flight to Australia. Still, they did give me a free up-grade to first class!

As I boarded the plane to be greeted by Australian accents and sat down in the large armchair in the nose of the plane, I suddenly felt better. Kicking my shoes off and taking the glass of rather nice champagne while the steward fussed around, I knew that I had nothing to worry about for the next twenty four hours. Total relaxation. 

Those days are behind me now, just memories. However, I couldn't help feeling a degree of empathy with George Clooney's character.        


Anonymous said...

Well that dug up memories I have tried to suppress.

I used to particularly hate the late night return from Melbourne, overflying my home town about 12 minutes out of Sydney, and knowing I still faced a two hour drive to get home.

Those weren't the days.

Jim Belshaw said...

This really made me laugh, KVD. I actually know how you feel.

Those day long business trips out at the crack of dawn on the red eye specials and then back sometimes quite late knowing that you had to work the next day, too late home to do things, tired and somewhat stressed out. Fortunately I did not face your drive. I largely gave up taking the car to the airport, preferring to taxi because it was easier. This also allowed me to have a drink on the plane while I wrote up my notes.

Mind you, especially in Sydney waiting for a taxi was and is a real pain. During my heavy travelling days I was mainly based in Canberra/Quenabeyan or Armidale, so the trip home was always short.

Anonymous said...

Walking round hotel carparks trying to remember even the colour of your hire car in the days before keyless remotes; taking nine hours to fly from Port Macquarie to Sydney via Grafton because of plane trouble; the guy in front laying his seat back so far you had to stare at the top of his head for the whole trip; smoking sections which left you smelling like a well cured haddock.

And all this while not looking remotely like George Clooney.

(word verification: dishabla)

Jim Belshaw said...

All too true!

The fat guy on the Perth flight who half squeezed me on one side, while the guy in front put his seat so far back that I could not move. And so it goes.

Flying is far less fun than it used to be with crowded planes and lounges, reduced seat space, tighter security with longer book-in times, tighter TA and less access to business class, let alone first class.

Still, I did enjoy the travel!